Is the future of healthcare digital? Singapore-based tele-health platform founder Elias Poore is not, he thinks it will be – but he believes that the winners in this market will offer more than a digital experience. ORA, which is announcing a $10 million Series A financing round today, is a vertically integrated platform built on that vision.
Poore is a former chief marketing officer at South-East Asian e-commerce giant Zalora, which saw rapid growth before the Covid-19 pandemic put more focus on digital health. “We’ve seen younger consumers in the South-East Asian region show more interest in self-care,” he recalls. “They wanted to look good and feel good, and they used their extra income to do that.”
Pour’s Vision for ORA began in Following the launch of the business in 2021. It offers healthcare services under three different brands: modules focused on dermatology, skin care and consultation. And kids are focused on the men’s health market; And OVA provides women’s reproductive health services. The brands operate independently but sit on the infrastructure that ORA has built as a group.
As consultations were delivered digitally, ORA grew rapidly. Since its inception, it has conducted more than 250,000 consultations, and the number of clients is growing every month. But just as importantly, Poore believes vertical integration is key to building a sustainable long-term business, especially in the face of rising pharma spending. The business has invested in physical clinics through which it can provide care, has its own pharmacy operation, and is developing its own line of treatments and products. The brands should be available in 1,300 stores by the end of this year.
The direct-to-consumer model works particularly well in Southeast Asia, Poore says, where 40% of healthcare costs are paid by individuals. Build in the demographics, the rapid growth of the affluent middle-class population in various countries in the region, and the threat of rapid healthcare costs, and there is scope for a vertically integrated challenger brand to make a big impact.
It also helps that the areas ORA chooses to focus on are people who need help with chronic conditions rather than one-time treatments. About 70% of the company’s revenue is recurring — primarily through subscription plans — and ORA boasts better retention rates than Netflix, Pour says.
The company believes that building relationships with young people who need support with non-life-threatening conditions is critical to their confidence and happiness. “Our whole theory is that if we can build those relationships of trust today, we can help our patients with other situations later in life,” Poore added.
Indeed, expansion into new therapeutic areas will be an obvious strategy for growth, with ORA already looking closely at areas such as weight management. The company is looking at geographical expansion. The Middle East, where consumers pay higher out-of-pocket healthcare costs, is one area to consider – a market that ORA is believed to be particularly focused on in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.
Therefore, the need for investment. Today’s Series A announcement brings the company’s total funding raised to more than $17 million, with the round led by TNB Aura and Antler, with participation from Gobi Partners, Cyrus Capital and GMA Ventures.
Charles Wong, founding partner at TNB Aura, believes the company can continue to grow rapidly. “ORA’s unique and often restricted health care vertical, as well as its direct-to-patient approach, clearly set the group apart,” he argued.
Teddy Himmler, Global Partner at Antler, added: “There are more than 1 billion people in South-East Asia and the GCC who are underserved by the traditional healthcare system, and we think the ORA platform approach is a straight-forward future. – Patient health care worldwide.
Investors in other businesses also think the potential is huge. For example, Australian tele-health business Eucalyptus has raised more than $30 million in new funding. Himes & Hers, one of the world’s leading health and wellness businesses, recently announced that its sales doubled last year to more than $500 million.
“We are defining a new category that combines prescription, over-the-counter and solid consumer products into one concept with superior post-treatment care and clinical continuity,” added ORA’s Pour. “This patient segment is putting health care and disease prevention above their concerns and going after the wallet share.”
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